L'Oreal dismisses Scholl bid

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The Independent Online
DAVID HELLIER

The French beauty group L'Oreal has said it has no intention of making a bid for Scholl, the footcare group, which is under siege from a rebel shareholders headed by the UK Active Value Fund.

Scholl yesterday issued a statement in which it quoted the contents of a letter from L'Oreal to Gordon Stevens, chairman.

The letter followed press speculation that L'Oreal as well as the American consumer products group, Gillette, were thought to have approached the rebel shareholders at Scholl with a view to making a possible offer for the group.

The L'Oreal letter said: "We would like to assure you that L'Oreal has no intention of making an offer for Scholl, and we have no objection to your making the contents of this letter public."

According to sources L'Oreal had been approached by a number of financial intermediaries who were encouraging the company to make a takeover approach.

Last month the rebel shareholders, who want the group to be sold to maximise shareholder value, said they knew of several groups that were interested in making a bid for the group. But so far only one of them, Arkopharma, a small private French pharmaceuticals business, has made its interest public to Scholl.

"The rebel shareholders have been talking about bidders since early last month but so far the only company we have heard from is a private small French group," said a spokesman for Scholl yesterday. "We have no idea where this story came from," said the spokesman.

Last week Scholl survived a vote at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting called by rebel shareholders who wanted to change the complexion of the board.

Scholl and JO Hambro & Partners, representing rebel interests, were last week discussing a compromise whereby one new board member might be appointed to the board to represent the rebels' interests. However, last week those compromise talks broke down.

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